“If I Don’t Do It For Myself, No One Else Will”

By: Eloise Waldon-Day

June 12, 2017

At Resonate, we host workshops with women and girls so they can tell their own story. It’s sometimes hard, without having been in one of our workshops, to understand what a catalytic impact that this simple skill can have. Learning to tell your own story helps you to understand the values that drive you, the strength you’ve demonstrated, and the great potential you still have, no matter what age you are.

One of my favourite stories from our recent workshops is Monique’s. Monique was 59 when she met Resonate, and she was unhappy at home. She wanted to weave baskets as a business but her husband was not supportive. As Monique said, “there is one important thing that I have learned from Resonate’s training: I have the power to solve my own problems. My husband wanted me to do agriculture like other women in my village, but I had bigger ambitions. I wanted to make a business with my talent of weaving baskets.”

After Resonate’s training, Monique realized that “if I don’t do it for myself, no one else will.” She talked to her husband, and after seeing what she could earn with her business he began supporting her. Today, Monique is the primary economic provider for her family and is a member of her village council. Her house has electricity, she is paying school fees for her last-born child, and she is part of her village saving group. Monique’s story best demonstrates the catalytic nature of Resonate’s programs. Monique had the ability to make change in her life, and she possessed all the skills she needed; all she needed was the confidence.

Part of what Monique’s story so powerful is that she had already lived a long life before she started rewriting her own story and becoming a leader in her community. Flavienne’s story is similar.

Flavienne was 45 when she attended Resonate’s workshop, and had been gradually losing confidence in herself. She was about to give up her role as a member of the Executive Committee in her village because she was overwhelmed by trying to make change alone, and as a result, was becoming uncertain of her own abilities. That changed once she attended one of Resonate’s workshops, and rediscovered her passion for leadership.

“During Resonate’s training, we had time to reflect on our past. It made me realise that each of us has strengths and that our strengths can complement each other. As a leader in my village and in my cooperative, it completely changed the way I handle things; I started believing in my colleagues’ strengths and giving them responsibilities and tasks to handle.”

After Resonate’s training, Flavienne noticed that her relationship with the cooperative members improved, and they have now created a culture of sharing their stories and seeking to understand one another better. This gave her confidence.

With her renewed confidence, Flavienne decided to run and was elected (for the third time!) to the Executive Committee of her village. She has also recently been nominated for her local Women’s Council for the Rwanda Patriotic Front. She told us that she feels proud of not giving up on her community, and that she is still contributing to its wellbeing. Flavienne said, “I am thankful for Resonate’s training. It helped me to find the strength in myself again when I most needed it. I am now a better leader than I was before.”

What’s remarkable about these stories in particular is that these two women could have become settled in their lives, and given up hope of aspiring to long forgotten goals, or becoming a better leader. But they didn’t. Learning to tell their story had unlocked their self-confidence in their abilities, and these two remarkable women decided to step up and create change for themselves, their families and their communities. That’s the great change that something as simple as storytelling can create.

Megan Madeira